Different YSZ powders have been deposited by the high frequency pulse detonation (HFPD) thermal spray process leading to highly dense and hard coatings in comparison to standard APS zirconia layers. During this development, the gun configuration and the process parameters (gas flows, explosion frequency, spray distance and cinematic conditions) have been optimised to get the best deposition performance. In order to explore the potential of the HFPD system to process YSZ base materials, different type of commercial spray powders (agglomerated, fused & crushed, fully or partially stabilized compositions) and size distributions, have been investigated and the resulting coatings characterized. A qualitative comparison of the coating performance at elevated temperatures is presented and discussed. For this purpose, an experimental set-up was designed. Potential applications of these types of zirconia coatings in advanced thermal barrier coating systems, high temperature wear protection or ionic conductors (sensors and fuel cells) are discussed.